Nagar Yatra, Vasant Panchami
A grand procession, prior to the murti-pratishtha ceremony, was carried out on the roads of Atladra and Vadodara. Many sadhus and devotees participated in the colorful procession with devotion and joy. The deities were paraded in seven beautifully decorated floats and an escort of youths.
2 February 2006 (VS 2062, Maha sud 5) Thursday, Atladra, Vasant Panchmi
As a prelude to the murti-pratishtha rituals of the murtis of Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shri Nilkanth Varni and Guru Parampara a yagna was held. There were 101 Brahmins chanting the yagna mantras in the presence of 1,437 participants (yajmans). Shrutiprakash Swami and Bhadresh Swami were coordinating and conducting the rituals. Besides the murtis mentioned the murtis of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj (Hiravadi, Amdavad), and Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Shri Harikrishna Maharaj, Shri Lakshmi-Narayan Dev, Shri Hanumanji and Shri Ganapatiji (Bamangam) and the canvas murtis for Pipliya village were placed in the yagna hall. Swamishri and the senior sadhus performed the yagna rituals. Thereafter Swamishri performed pujan and arti of all the murtis and the kalashes. Finally in his blessings Swamishri said, “The pratishtha ritual of Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj is being held on the day of Shastriji Maharaj’s birthday anniversary. When God is invoked, he resides (in the murti) with his divine power and glory. It is then that we derive happiness (from the murti). That is why the yagna rituals are performed. This yagna is being performed for peace. And when the murti of God is consecrated there is peace. Then bhakti blossoms in our heart. And when his moral commands and upasana are followed then one experiences inner peace”
Thereafter Swamishri presided over the birthday celebration assembly of Shastriji Maharaj. After a traditional dance performance by youths Mahant Swami addressed the assembly. Finally, Swamishri blessed the gathering, “Shastriji Maharaj came on earth to give happiness to all; the happiness of God and the joy of bhajan85 One has taken infinite births – as a king, Indra, etc. – and then one has got this human birth. In the former births one has gratified the senses with worldly pleasures but one has not attained peace and moksha. Without moksha there is no peace. Even if you were to eat the best of foods now, in the evening you will be hungry again. So, material happiness is fleeting. However when one becomes atmarup or brahmarup there is no need for eating, drinking, seeing and moving. In the happiness of God lies all happiness. In view of Akshar’s vision we are all in Akshardham. If one realizes this then one will not be inclined to return home from here”
At 3.15 pm a grand procession of the murtis was carried out in the city of Vadodara. The procession commenced from the grounds of Navlakhi then proceeded towards Kirtisthambh, Market, Lal Court, Gandhinagar Gruh, Amdavadi Pol, Ravpura (tower), Kothi and finally terminated at the Navlakhi ground. All the senior sadhus, 200 sadhus, 4,200 male devotees and 5,700 female devotees, 10,000 in all, participated in the grand procession. The 1.5 km colourful pageant included youths on horseback, a music band, and troupes of dancing children and tribal devotees. Women carried the auspicious pots on their head while singing bhajans. The procession concluded at 6.00 pm.
3 February 2006 (VS 2062, Maha sud 6) Friday, Atladra
At 9.28 am Swamishri commenced the pratishtha rituals of the murtis of Ghanshyam Maharaj in the mandir sanctum. Simultaneously the initial pratishtha rituals for the murtis of Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, installed in ornate shrines in the mandir pradakshina, were being performed by Dr. Swami, Mahant Swami, Kothari Swami and Tyagvallabh Swami respectively. After consecrating the murti of Ghanshyam Maharaj, Swamishri performed pujan of Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj, Ganapatiji and Hanumanji. Finally, Swamishri performed the pratishtha arti of Ghanshyam Maharaj. Thereafter Swamishri proceeded to the Rang Mandap of the mandir to consecrate the murti of Nilkanth Varni. Swamishri performed pujan and arti of Nilkanth Varni and lastly offered abhishek with panchamrut.
After the pratishtha ceremony an assembly was held where the senior sadhus addressed the devotees. In conclusion Swamishri blessed the gathering, “Bhagwan Swaminarayan came on earth to liberate countless people. He travelled in the forests and throughout India with that purpose. There is a film on his travels in Akshardham. He travelled alone in the Himalayas. He had no maps and no footwear. He had only one aim – to redeem. The great come with a goal on earth. And to realize their goal they do not shirk from obstacles and difficulties85 He initiated 500 paramhansas, built mandirs and kept the path of moksha open forever through an ekantik sadhu who is wedded to dharma, gnan, vairagya and bhakti”
Twenty thousand devotees attended the murti-pratishtha festival.